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THE GUNS OF OUR ANCESTORS — 51 Comments

  1. Nice heirloom. I have my grandfather’s colt 1903, serial # dating a 1928. Not carried much, one 2 magazine. I also have his Beretta model 418 .25acp with original Italian box and sales receipt that he brought over from Italy. I guess let you bring the gun in back then, immediately following ww2. I inherited a few cases of 32acp from a friend so I do take the colt out for a spin from time to time.

  2. Nice old Colt and it’s great that the pistol has such a personal connection for you. Thanks for sharing the story.

  3. I understand that there is a (U.S.) company making these 1903 Colts new, under license from Colt. No idea of the price but it’s likely high, I love the style but have never owned one.

  4. Nice story. I have my grandmother’s gun. Going to have to get my daughter to shoot it to make it 4 generations. My grandkids are only 2 so it is going to be a while before this gun gets to 5 generations. My grandmother and her roommates had burglar problems and used to do house clearance drills.

  5. My dad passed away after a short illness. The vultures began circling to pick at what few things he had posessed. I announced I was opting out; they could keep my share and squabble over it as they pleased.

    One of the siblings tossed me the Taurus revolver Dad had bought a few years previously. None of them wanted it. Little Model 85 5-shot snubby.

    I paid the state for a carry permit and bought a nice holster. What little money Dad had, the spawn frittered away years ago. But the little Taurus is with me every single day.

  6. It’s great to see a gun on the blog again! A beauty to boot with a lovely story to go along with it. Reminds me of all the Canadians who were unable to hand down such pieces to their kin due to .32 and .25ACP being banned for no apparent reason. Thanks to all for sharing your stories! Remember to do what you can to keep those Freedoms.

  7. Heirloom guns. I wrote up my heirloom Remington model 11 shotgun for the 2017 Gun Digest annual book, in the section “One Good Gun”, on page 315. This particular shotgun is now being used by the 4th generation in my family.

  8. I have one from each side.
    When I was 11 I found a Marlin #1 (single shot bolt action with new-at-the-time Microgroove rifling) under the Christmas tree. My father taught me to shoot with it. I wore it out once, and had to have the bolt handle worked on.
    It still gives good service teaching physically small people to fire their first rifle shots.
    My father-in-law brought a German Browning Hi-Power home from WWII. When the last “assault weapons” ban expired I picked up some magazines marked “law enforcement only” for it. It’s a 9mm shooting lesson and history lesson all in one.
    It’s provenance is a somewhat sad one. I had to “borrow” it and not return it after Dad developed Alzheimer’s, about the time we had to take away his pickup. A hard day.

  9. My dad had an aversion to handguns as a result of carrying one all through WWIII (“Damn thing wore a callus on hip”) and his assertion that the Government model 1911 .45 auto issue pistol was so inaccurate that you, “Couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn.” But I have a few shotguns and rifles of his. A couple Belgian Browning A5s, the 3″ magnum has a serial number of 11XX. A Winchester model 12 in 20 gauge that I’ve turned down numerable offers to sell from guys that think I don’t know what I’ve got.
    And a Savage 99F in .308 that I took my first deer with and all three of my sons did as well. And the .300 Weatherby MK 5 that has never caused me to have to track anything shot with it.

  10. Living in the UK means I do not have the joy of owning even half of the firearms I would like… I have an old Webley air rifle which was a birthday present, but that’s it. Even so, it is so precious to me that despite its faults and shortcomings, I would never sell it. I only wish I could have a Hi-Power or a FAL.

    • Yes, the UK serves as an excellent example of the unlimited nature of a left-wing prohibition mentality. A prohibitionist can never be satisfied (by definition) with anything less than total prohibition or, at least, as total as they can practically make it.

      This was illustrated, a century ago, when the American Left fixated upon alcohol as the “Demon Run” and entered a Prohibition mindset cycle. They did not settle for anything less than a Constitutional Amendment to ban the manufacture and sell of alcohol.

      The Left’s prohibition mindset on weapons is illustrated, in the here and now, by the draconian anti-weapon laws currently in-place in the UK. In the UK, ownership of most firearms are out-of-the-question for most Subjects of the Crown. Airguns are treated similar to standard firearms and are also heavily restricted. Even knives are restricted. See this link:

      http://www.thetruthaboutknives.com/2013/03/british-knife-laws-hoplophobia-defined-2/

      You see, the left-wing mentality is unable (due to their strange worldview) to place any blame for the World’s evils directly upon the humans who actually carry out the evil. The Leftist mind always seeks to “shift the blame” for evil away from the human perpetrators and place it “elsewhere”. For a leftist to place the blame for violence upon some environmental object, such as the availability of weapons, or the influence of drugs or alcohol, is as natural as a fish breathing water instead of air. Thus, Leftists naturally gravitate toward mindsets that favor prohibition of something or other. It is how they manage to deny (mentally) that the real problem is within mankind himself. A leftist always needs a scapegoat.

      The situation in the UK is EXACTLY where the prohibitionists, in the American Left, will take us if they ever manage to overturn the 2nd Amendment and destroy pro-gun groups such as the NRA. They work tirelessly to do both.

      Make no mistake about it. The Prohibition mindset is alive and well in the USA. It did not die in the 1930’s when Alcohol Prohibition was repealed. That is the great pity of it! We learn nothing from history and simply go on to repeat the same mistakes over and over and over again. 🙁

    • Eli: My heart truly aches for the good people of countries like Britain that have disarmed the law-abiding populace. To not be able to experience the joy of firearm ownership and use, as well as being deprived of the benefit of excellent self-defense, is such a shame.

  11. Nice piece and a nice story. I’ve got my grand dads gun in a sock drawer. It’s a Hopkins & Allen breaktop in .38 S&W and came with some blackpowder shells. As near as I can tell, it sold for $3.50 back in the day. I’m not sure if it’s the first drop safe revolver, but it’s an interesting piece, even if the nickel is peeling in a couple spots. I periodically think about removing the firing pin.

  12. I wish I had such nice stories as all of yours. My grandfather served in the Great War (WWI), and was patrolling his ship while it was docked in France. His captain called him 19 kinds of fool for patrolling unarmed, so he bought a “comrade pistol”, of German manufacture, probably 7.65 mm, a .32 S&W would chamber, but not fire. He gave it to me when I was 16 or so, and we locked it in my father’s gun cabinet, with my dad’s falling block .22 and pump .22.
    Near the end of his life, my dad sold/gave away his rifles and my pistol to an old friend, who passed away shortly thereafter, so all the family guns have been lost to my family.

  13. Among the family guns currently in my custody- my Great-grandfather’s 30/40 Krag that he carried in the Spanish-American war in Cuba. Weather permitting I try to shoot it Memorial Day weekend. (Also the machete that he carried, we really loved that as kids.) There’s the 1864 U.S. Springfield .58 cal. musket that I take out during muzzleloader season every December. An H&R model 1905 double action revolver in .32 S&W, which my grandfather passed on to me a few years before his death, saying it had been his fathers’ gun. A lot of family history.

  14. I got a .30/.40 Krag from my Dad that I gave to one of my sons who is in the U.S. Navy and collects old military weapons. He loves it, and reloads for it, as well as his M1 Garand, and his M1 carbine. I also have another son, who lives closer to me, and he is into guns as well. I was not much into guns growing up, as much as I was into hunting. But now I also own handguns, and carry everyday. It is a different world, and I am glad I was able to give each of my sons at least one of my Dad’s guns. And I will pass my own guns down to them as well, to start our own families tradition. That is something that the anti gun people simply can’t understand, sadly, and something that makes me proud of our American heritage.

  15. I have some interesting guns. One is an Allin trap door dated 1870. It is a conversion from a Springield 1863 (still clearly marked on the lockplate). It is chambered in 50-70. It was my grandfather’s & he used to shoot it. It was reportedly quite accurate. I have not shot it due to a patch of rust in the barrel. If I ever get it checked I will shoot it. You can see the barrel insert at the muzzle. It is in the bright (not blued). An interesting gun … and I have an original 1863 Springfield that was not converted. I shot that one as a kid. That was dad’s.

    And then there was the day I saw dad shoot that old double barrel 10 gauge muzzleloader. Smoke! I Love the smell of the real stuff to this day.

  16. To all fellow blog readers who are now day dreaming about finding, buying and firing at the range a pistol all but identical to the Model 1903 32 ACP passed down to family heirs by Mas’ grandfather, here you go:

    http://shop.nhgunshop.com/handguns/semi-automatic-handguns/colt-by-us-armament-1903b-1903-hammerless-single-32-automatic-colt-pistol-acp-375-81-walnut-grip-blued

    The heirloom passed down via my grandfather (U.S. Army Veteran, World War I) and my father (U.S. Army Veteran, World War II) to me (U.S. Army Veteran, Post-Vietnam Era) is a Colt M1911 45 ACP Pistol that, one day, be passed down to one of my three grandsons who chooses to serve our country in either a law enforcement or military uniform. This particular pistol symbolizes duty, fidelity, honor, integrity, patriotism and sacrifice. These are critically important moral values that the marchers of March 24, 2018 view as passé. The loss is theirs.

  17. Cool story. Have a family heirlooms of our own. Parker shotgun (16 gauge) from my great-grandfather. Have a tintype photo of him on his farm in Illinois holding that shotgun. HIs son (my grandfather) killed a couple of burglars with it during the Great Depression. Recently had the Parker Society research the gun – they provided me with a copy of the sales log from the original purchase. Passed down through four generations so far. It’s priceless to me.

  18. WOW!! AMAZING STORIES!! I believe them, but they sound like Hollywood. On TV, I once saw the hosts shoot a gun that was made in the 1600s. I couldn’t believe they fired it!

  19. Great story, there are many people that can relate to this. I enjoy your prospective on all your articles.

  20. The 1903 has been a favorite since I tried out one I had purchased as a gift for a man who I thought was going to be my father-in-law after hearing he regretted selling one many years prior. The engagement fell through, but I’ll always remember the joy on his face when he opened the box and saw the pistol.

    Most of my father’s guns were sold when he passed away (I was 8) but I did eventually get a single shot Springfield .22 that was his and later I received my Grandfather’s .38 S&W model 10 he had used to stop a highway robbery (no shots fired).

    Both are what would be considered today “cheap” guns, but they’re special to me.

  21. Got about same story…. got my colt 1908 .32 from my father…one of his first gun bought in 1960…. used it myself for a while…. and gave it to my daughter for her 10 years birthday last month.Still in mint condition and still working fine !!!

  22. I have my grandparents’ Smith & Wesson 4th Model top-break revolver in .38 S&W that dates to about 1903 (I think). Once when grandpa, grandma and their four young daughters were traveling in the mountains of east Tennessee, they stopped for the night at an inn where grandma became suspicious. The innkeeper looked shifty, one of the doors appeared to have a bullet hole in it, and the doors had no locks. Grandma made it known that she would be sitting up all night facing the door with the revolver in her lap. She did, and all in the inn slept peacefully that evening.

  23. I really enjoyed that story, yes that is a nice Colt you have there. My best friend collects S&W pistols but he likes his Colt .32 just as much. 1948 was a good year, I also was born that year.I really look forward to your articles. Take care of the Evil Princess. You take care too!!

  24. Mas – I have the .22 ‘Ranger’ bolt action my dad hunted with and, on occasion, took on the school bus to high school for rifle competition. Nuff said.

  25. Mas, this is great. SO glad you have Grand’dad’s trusty companion. Not a bad group, even though high. That’s a nice looking one, too.

    My family on Mom’s side hardly had any guns, maybe Grandpa had a .22 rifle, a rebbit gun, but as far as I could know, never any handguns. Mom hated guns, was VERY uncomfortable around them. Did not even like them in the house. Dad grew up on a farm in Rural Churchill COUnty Nevada, and OF COURSE they had guns. He tells how, as a kid, all the boys and a few of the firls brought their guns to school on a regular basis, Lunch time entertainment, and perhaps a bit of protein for the family dinner table that night on the way home. After Dad became the school bus driver (at 14!!) they all just brought them along on the bus. Quick stops on the way home often yielded a rabbit or rattler for the stewpot.
    I well remember Grandma’s gun… a Winchestter, I think, .22 pump action repeater, I seem to remember a tube mag, but could be wrong on that. It was her truck gun (a ’47 Ford one ton with the flathead V8 and twin dry stacks that came up just behind the cab. As I gew into my teen years, we’d borrow that and go murder some cans. One of my cousins had discovered that it was so badly worn that if one held the trigger back and worked the slide, as the next round came into battery it would fire. Work that slide really fast and you almost had a full auto. Jeff Sessions would be apopleptic on that one. I think my cousin Bernie got that one. More a keepsake than a real usable rifle by that time, but hey. it was Grandma’s

    • Those old Winchesters were actually designed to work that way. Winchester 1897 and 1912 pump shotguns, too.

      • I have grampa’s model 12 circa 1924 or so. His son, a favorite uncle, told me he nearly got pinched by a game warden in NY State for a loaded gun in his car. He was driving, saw some game (don’t recall what), pulled over and jumped out with the 12 gauge. He walked off the roadway a bit, racked the action once smoothly and fired. The warden approached to inspect the gun and declared he was going to cite him. He explained and demonstrated … shell in right hand, left hand draw the action back and push the shell into the action from the bottom of the open action, left hand finishes the ‘pump’ chambering the round. The warden was impressed & had never seen that before. No pitch. Just a new experience circa late 1940’s.

  26. I love stories like that!
    I own a early Remington 721 in .270 Win. that my Uncle Frank purchased in the around 1948 to 1950. In 1952, when he was getting married he needed some cash so he sold it to his brother, my Uncle Mike. Uncle Mike never had any children and after he suffered a stroke in 2000, he knew his hunting days were over and he gave it to me. It’s in beautiful condition and is a good shooter. Someday I’ll pass it on to one of my kids along with the rifles history.

  27. I still have my paternal grandfather’s Winchester model 54, chambered in 30-30. Its serial number pegs its manufacture to 1929. I’ve fired it often, respectfully, and it’s wonderful in an elemental way. My grandfather, like yours, Mas, was born in 1900 and died just months before I was in (the year you first fired that Colt).

  28. Very nice post, Mas. That’s the thing about guns, at least to many (most?) of us who appreciate them – besides being tools, they are also symbols of our past. One the one hand we say that they are not ‘magic talismen’ that ward off evil in and of themselves, but they certainly act as memory inducers, much like the smells associated with events in our past. My favorites are a rifle and two shotguns I got from my mom and dad. The rifle was mom’s, a .22 Stevens bolt action with tubular magazine under the barrel. It was the rifle I learned to shoot with, and my parents and I spent many hours in gravel pits and river bottoms plinking at cans, bottles and other sundry objects. One of my favorite pictures of my mom shows her shooting that rifle as a young lady in her late teens or early 20’s along a creek in Dallas County. Turns out, that site was about a quarter mile from where I spent my youth – but of course by then was miles inside the Dallas city limits.
    The shotguns are Winchester Model 12’s – a 12 ga (dad’s) and a 16 ga (mom’s) with their finish almost all gone. Again, many great memories of dove hunting trips to the Wichita Falls area where my dad grew up, pretty much every year. When I was too young to go with them, I stayed with my aunts and grandmother while mom and dad hunted. As I was older, I ‘bird dogged’ for them, retrieving the birds they shot, and I also started learning to help clean their Model 12’s. Always with discussions about gun safety. Many other wonderful memories come back every time I open the gun safe and see them front and center (the long barrels won’t fit anywhere but the front row!): Dad’s hunting buddies, them getting mad at my mom for getting her limit before they did (most of the time – she was a very good shot), one of them getting sprayed by a skunk and us threatening to tie him to the fender for the ride home, the generosity of the farmer who not only let us hunt but encouraged us to put one of his watermelons under the drip of the windmill so it would be cold when we got done hunting, and many, many more.
    Many life lessons in those memories!

  29. Love those old 1903 pocket Colts. Really impressed that it has been in your family so long and been shared with so many generations. Take good care of that treasure!

  30. Mas – I also have a little auto pistol that I inherited from my Grandfather (on my Mother’s side). However, it is not as nice as a JM Browning designed Colt 1903. My little pistol is a nickle plated Galesi (Made in Italy in 1958) chambered for the tiny .25 ACP round.

    It is said (in my family) that Grandpa liked to carry this little gun in his pocket. In fact, he supposedly had it in his pocket in November 1963 when he passed away from a sudden heart attack.

    This little .25 was also the first semi-auto pistol that I ever shot. I can remember my dad letting me shoot it when I was a kid. I remember being disappointed that I could not shoot it very well at all. However, this was due to “Operator Error” rather than the gun. I took this little .25 out to the range a couple of years ago to shoot it again for the first time in years. I was surprised at how accurately it shot (silhouette target set at 10 yards). The difference being that, after taking several classes including your MAG-40 class, I now know how to shoot a handgun. A skill that I was sadly lacking as a kid! 🙂

    I know that this little .25 does not have much value at all on the used-gun market. However, money would not buy it.

    • TN_MAN, my Dad had one of those little Galesi’s. His was blued-steel and .22lr though. I have no idea where he picked it up, or where it is now, but the fit, finish, and functioning of the little gun was flawless.

  31. If firearms could speak what revealing stories would be told, almost as well as this writer’s.

  32. Mas, I received an email about your upcoming cataract surgery, and responded from a medical professional as a patient perspective. Hope all went well.
    Bob

      • Hey Mad, just saw you’re getting cataract surgery. Had both my eyes done in December and January. Had 20/70 vision prior, and 20/20 after! Hope yours goes as well as mine!!

  33. Is it one with no half-cock hammer position? I have one without a half-cock, a Type III dating to 1919. A nice little pistol but from my understanding not to carried or left cocked and locked.

  34. Mine’s a Remington Rand 1911A1 that Dad brought back from Okinawa. About 30 years ago on Christmas I opened a package with my name on it and there it was. Dad told me it was time for me to have it.

    • Jim, I have one of those too, from my dad, also having served in the South Pacific. It still shoots so well.

  35. Thank you, Mr. Ayoob. I have a old (pre 1925 AD).38 S&W 5 shot break action revolver that was my Great Uncle’s who was Chief of Detectives of the Savannah, GA PD. I had it refinished and cherish this firearm. My father and I were career military and my brothers and son were Law Enforcement Officers. Thank you, for you insightful columns. Be safe.

    Tom Crosby

  36. Family guns have real character….my family were small game hunters and
    didn’t own handguns….I have a Winchester Mod 12 that my mother gave new to my father in 1931 as a birthday present…his favorite depression era story was the time he shot 14 rabbits with 15 shells.
    That old gun brings back a ton of great memories for me….

  37. Wish I had heirlooms. Coming from NYC the family didn’t have any firearms. I certainly have made up for them.